United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR
EQUITABLE TOLLING , GRANTING RESPONDENT'S MOTION FOR
DISMISSAL , AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III United States District Judge.
Tyrone Mason is incarcerated in a Michigan state prison and
petitions the Court for a writ of habeas corpus under 28
U.S.C. § 2254. Mason challenges his conviction for two
counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he has
also filed a motion for equitable tolling of the limitations
period. Respondent did not file a response to the motion and,
instead, filed a motion for dismissal of the petition for
failure to comply with the limitations period. The Court
finds equitable tolling of the limitations period unjustified
and will therefore grant the motion to dismiss.
a jury trial in Recorder's Court for the City of Detroit,
Mason was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal
sexual conduct. On December 16, 1985, he was sentenced to 40
to 120 years' imprisonment. The Michigan Court of Appeals
affirmed his convictions on direct appeal. People v.
Mason, No. 91388 (Mich. Ct. App. July 21, 1988) (ECF No.
8-8). The Michigan Supreme Court denied leave to appeal.
People v. Mason, No. 83884 (March 7, 1989) (ECF No.
February 25, 1991, the trial court denied Mason's motion
for resentencing. See ECF 8-16, PgID 1110. On
September 13, 1991, the Michigan Court of Appeals denied
Mason's delayed application for leave to appeal. ECF 7-2,
PgID 134. Mason did not seek leave to appeal in the Michigan
Supreme Court. See ECF 8-11.
September 18, 2014, Mason attempted to file a motion for
relief from judgment in the trial court. The trial court
ordered the motion returned without filing for failure to
comply with Michigan Court Rule 6.502(D). See ECF
March 27, 2015, Mason filed another motion for relief from
judgment. The trial court denied this motion, too. ECF 8-15.
The Michigan Court of Appeals subsequently denied Mason's
application for leave to appeal, People v. Mason,
No. 332284 (Mich. Ct. App. Aug. 3, 2016), and on January 1,
2017, the Michigan Supreme Court likewise denied leave to
appeal, People v. Mason, 500 Mich. 934 (Jan. 31,
9, 2017, Mason concurrently filed the instant habeas corpus
petition and motion for equitable tolling. ECF 1, 2.
Respondent filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the
petition was not timely filed and that equitable tolling is
not warranted. ECF 7. Mason did not file a response.
argues that the petition is barred by the one-year statute of
limitations. Habeas petitions filed after April 24, 1996 are
governed by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
of 1996 ("AEDPA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). AEDPA
imposes a one-year limitations period for habeas petitions
like Mason's. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). A
prisoner must file his petition within one year of the
"date on which the judgment became final by the
conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for
seeking such review . . . or the date on which the factual
predicate of the claim or claims presented could have been
discovered through the exercise of due diligence." 28
U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A), (D). The time during which a
prisoner seeks state-court collateral review of a conviction
does not count toward the limitation period. 28 U.S.C. §
2244(d)(2); Ege v. Yukins, 485 F.3d 364, 371-72 (6th
Cir. 2007). A properly filed application for state
post-conviction relief tolls the limitation period, but does
not reset the limitation period at zero. Vroman v.
Brigano, 346 F.3d 598, 602 (6th Cir. 2003).
concedes that, absent equitable tolling, his habeas petition
is untimely. Mason's conviction became final in 1989,
well before AEDPA's effective date, April 24, 1996.
Prisoners whose convictions became final before AEDPA's
effective date were given a one-year grace period, until
April 24, 1997, to file their federal habeas petitions.
Jurado v. Burt, 337 F.3d 638, 640 (6th Cir. 2003).
The limitations period is statutorily tolled during the
pendency of a properly filed application for state-post
conviction relief. Vroman, 346 F.3d at 602.
Mason's state court filings did not statutorily toll the
limitations period because all but one of his motions for
post-conviction relief were filed well after the one-year
limitations period expired. Mason is therefore correct that
his petition is untimely unless the limitations period is
one-year limitations period is not a jurisdictional bar and
is therefore subject to equitable tolling where a habeas
petitioner "shows (1) that he has been pursuing his
rights diligently, and (2) that some extraordinary
circumstance stood in his way and prevented timely
filing." Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649
(2010) (internal quotation marks omitted). Mason argues that
he is entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period
because he suffers from a lack of financial resources, has a
long history of mental illness, has been "heavily
medicated at all times relevant to the preparation and filing
of a habeas corpus petition, " is illiterate, and only
recently learned about the availability of habeas corpus
relief. ECF 2, PgID 103-04.
ignorance of the availability of habeas corpus relief and
lack of resources to hire an attorney do not justify
equitable tolling. The Sixth Circuit has consistently held
that ignorance of the law is insufficient to warrant
equitable tolling. See Allen v. Yukins, 366 F.3d
396, 403 (6th Cir. 2004). Mason's lack of funds to retain
an attorney is also not a ground for equitable tolling,
Reeves v. Campbell, 708 Fed.Appx. 230, 235 (6th Cir.
2017), nor is his illiteracy, Cobas v. Burgess, 306
F.3d 441, 444 (6th Cir. 2002).
petitioner's mental incompetence can constitute an
extraordinary circumstance justifying equitable tolling of
the one-year limitations period. Ata v. Scutt, 662
F.3d 736, 742 (6th Cir. 2011). In Ata, the Sixth
Circuit held that to be entitled to equitable tolling for
mental incompetence the petitioner must show that he was
mentally incompetent and that his incompetence caused the
late filing. Id. at 742. The petitioner must show
"a causal link between the mental condition and untimely
filing[.]" Id. A mental impairment
"‘might justify equitable tolling if it interferes
with the ability to understand the need for assistance, the
ability to secure it, or the ability to cooperate with ...